American Idol Top 12 Girls Perform
Simon Cowell was quoted this past week as saying that he believes that a girl will win “American Idol” this year, so the expectations were high as the Top 12 girls competed live last night for the first time. The great news is that none of the contestants were dreadful, and a few were really strong. So here are my reviews and grades for the performances, going from best to worst:
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX : “Hand In My Pocket” – I’m not sure “American Idol” has ever had anyone quite like Crystal before, and I find her completely refreshing. The singer/songwriter who plays multiple instruments has an instantly memorable persona and she seems entirely authentic. Although she doesn’t belt out any super-impressive, diva high notes, she knows her vocal range and works it perfectly. Simon wisely pointed out that she should begin taking songs from other genres and bringing them into her world. In other words, no more Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, or Melissa Etheridge. Grade: A-
LILLY SCOTT : “Fixing a Hole” – Yes, she’s another blonde girl with a guitar, but you’d never confuse her with Crystal. Lilly has her own original style, an utterly unique voice, and to top it off she entertained us with a song choice from left field. Her take on the somewhat obscure Beatles’ song has put her on the map, even if Simon thinks she’s lacking star power. Grade: A-
SIOBHAN MAGNUS : “Wicked Game” – Thank goodness for another fresh song choice. (I, for one, hope to never hear Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” on ‘Idol’ again.) Siobhan wasn’t really on my radar until my friend Phillip Banks pointed her out a couple of weeks ago, and I think he was right. Her mastery of her higher range was very impressive, even if her deeper vocals were a little unusual. On more than one occasion the judges have mentioned that she’s “too dark,” but I have a feeling that’s just who she is. Too different for the voters? We’ll see. Grade: B
KATELYN EPPERLY : “Oh! Darling”- I didn’t have much of an opinion on Katelyn in the earlier rounds, but she definitely caught my attention last night with her bluesy spin on this Beatles’ track. She seems totally confident on stage and I find her facial expressions appealing as she’s singing. I disagreed with Kara on the hair and makeup comment…I thought the styling worked great for this number. Grade: B
HAELEY VAUGHN : “I Want To Hold Your Hand” – Okay, I know a lot of you will want to stone me over my high grade for Haeley, but I’m just so entirely charmed by her! Yes, the vocals need a lot of improvement, but she’s got star power in spades. Ellen said it best when she pointed out that Haeley “shines” when she’s singing, and I found her emotional vocals appealing during many parts of her distinctive version of the Beatles’ classic. Grade: B
DIDI BENAMI : “The Way I Am” – I can’t tell you how relieved I was to hear Didi say that America has probably seen enough of her tears. We have. (Brooke White 2.0 is not something I was looking forward to.) Luckily for Didi, most people aren’t familiar with this Ingrid Michaelson tune, so they don’t know that this was a pretty straightforward version. Solid vocals, though. Grade: B
KATIE STEVENS : “Feelin’ Good” – Katie definitely has a powerful voice, but I’m in agreement with the judges that this was a far too “mature” performance for 17 year-old Katie. If she chooses something youthful and contemporary next week, I think Katie might go pretty far in the competition, especially if she loses that “pageanty” quality that Simon noted. Oh, and can we retire the story of the sick grandmother? Grade: B-
MICHELLE DELAMOR : “Fallin'” – She can most definitely sing, but Michelle didn’t do anything to put her own mark on this sound alike version of the Alicia Keys hit. Grade: B-
PAIGE MILES : “All Right Now” – What was Simon smoking when he made the statement that Paige has “the best voice in the competition”? Am I missing something? I mean, her delivery of Free’s classic rock staple was certainly competent, but come on! Grade: C
JANELL WHEELER : “What About Love” – I still remain enamored by her Hollywood Week rendition of Estelle’s “American Boy,” but her paint-by-numbers delivery of this Heart song didn’t do her any favors. At this point, her looks are her strongest asset. Grade: C
ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ : “Happy” - Nothing memorable to report. Grade: C
LACEY BROWN : “Landslide” – After narrowly missing out on making the Top 24 last year, I was very happy for Lacey when she made this season’s cut, which she clearly deserved after a great audition and one strong Hollywood Week performance. But she lost an enormous amount of steam with her bizarre vocal spin on the Fleetwood Mac classic. Grade: C-
Who is going home Thursday night? It won’t necessarily be the two weakest singers. At this point, people are voting for who they remember. So with that in mind, I’d say the two most forgettable girls are Michelle Delamor and Ashley Rodriguez, mainly due to little (or no) televised exposure during the earlier rounds.
Who is your favorite girl? (Vote in our poll on the right.) Who do you think will be sent home? And how’s Ellen working out for you? Sound off with a comment below!